Why Candace House?
Why do victims need a place? Because everyone needs a place.
There is nothing more secure, grounding, and healing than being connected to a place. Everywhere else in the justice system there are houses; the courthouse, the big house, half-way houses- everywhere.
Crime victims are part of the justice making process, so it only seems appropriate that they have a house as well. Candace House needs to be comparable in presence and importance.
–Wilma Derksen, Candace House Founding Visionary
Imagine being sent to a strange place for the first time.
You arrive to find that you don't understand the language, customs, or rules. You don't know where you're supposed to go or what you're supposed to do.
You don't know anyone so you can't get them to guide you. There's no way of knowing whether the people you meet in this foreign place are there to help you or hurt you.
Now imagine that the only reason you are even in this place is for the purpose of re-living your worst nightmare in excruciating detail again and again...
For victims, survivors, and loved ones impacted by violent crime, this is reality.
With 25-40 deaths by homicide or driving offence taking place in our community every year, the impact for hundreds of families and loved ones affected over the past few decades is staggering.
But numbers don’t begin do justice to the unimaginable pain…
Parents, spouses and partners, siblings, children and friends go through gut-wrenching, can’t-breathe-can’t-think-can’t-focus trauma when they lose a loved one to shocking violence.
The world as they previously knew it is gone, never to return.
And the struggle doesn’t end there.
Loved ones already coping with the effects of this loss are now thrown into the long, arduous and unchosen journey through the criminal justice system and court process. A journey that last months, and sometimes years.
Others take over telling the story of their loved one’s life, with families left to observe.
Even after a verdict may be reached, appeals, re-trials, and parole board hearings can continue.
And while grieving this loss is hard enough, repeatedly hearing details about the event means victims are hurled back into the chaos of first hearing about the death.
The courthouse has little that indicates support and comfort.
Victims stand in line with strangers and pass through airport type security. All around, grey stone, cold cement, large echoing hallways, and hard furniture. It’s a place that instills fear and anxiety.
It’s hard to find a safe place to take a break or wait during adjournments to cry, laugh, be sick, decompress or just “be human.” There’s no private space within the courts to participate in healing and sacred traditions or ceremonies.
And even something as simple as finding lunch or a snack is hard. It becomes expensive to dine out, and there aren't many places to eat food brought from home.
During jury trials, deliberations can take hours to days.
Loved ones wanting to be present for the verdict must stay close, as the courts will not wait for their return. While the judge returns to their chambers, lawyers go back to their offices, and the accused goes back to their holding cell, victims can be left to wander and wait in the halls or washrooms.
And to top it all off, after a day spent in court, victims may not have access to a comforting place to try and understand what just happened, to ask questions, to find answers, or to just feel utterly broken.
Whose story is this?
Who are the mothers, fathers, partners, spouses, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons, that continue to face such overwhelming challenges after having had loved ones ripped from their lives?
It could be you.
No one chooses to be a victim of violent crime. The loss of a loved one because of homicide or driving offense could happen to you, your family, your friends, your colleagues, or your neighbours.
Nothing can take away the pain of having a loved one murdered, nor can the outcome of court be controlled. But with support from our community, we have now created a first of its kind place to offer victims and survivors support and comfort.
With you, Candace House is the future.
Every day, Candace House welcomes guests to our Healing Haven.
Victims, survivors, and loved ones, all affected by violent crime, now have a place to take “take their shoes off” and receive emotional support, information, and access to services and programs they need.